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I think the church's desire to be salt and light in the world makes it difficult for us to be told that we have done wrong - certainly to be told that we have done wrong in a sweeping and collective sense. 

From a missional mindset, the Body of Christ longs to be a community that has the answers and that people look to for guidance - we are followers of Jesus, we have his words of life and the Gospel itself, and it is our mission to offer these incredible gifts to the world around us.  We desire deeply (and Biblically) to be agents of salt and light and truth and goodness in the world - and so with the many broad cultural shifts away from the church that we have seen in recent decades, I think it becomes particularly difficult to accept that we, as the body of Christ, have been a serious part of the problem. 

I think it becomes REALLY difficult for Christians, as God's missional community, to see people who are not followers of Jesus leading the way and calling on the church to repent.  Because it raises fundamental questions for us: If we, the body of Christ, are part of the problem, and there are people who are not followers of Jesus who are following a better path than we are - what do we actually have to offer the world?  

I believe the answer is repentance.  

Again, from a missional mindset, I think the church longs to have the answers because we believe that having the answers and being a role model is at the heart of what our mission is - and so if we don't have those things, we can no longer be the salt and light that God has called us to be.

But if we look at the heart of our Gospel - a Gospel of failure, and repentance, and forgiveness, and renewal - I think that one of the most powerful witnesses the church has to offer to the world is not having all the answers, but rather modeling the path of humility by listening to others, acknowledging sin, and repenting of it.  People who feel they are always right do not get a voice in the lives of others - I know this from personal experience.  It is not the impervious man who develops friendships, but the man who is broken - because in the broken man people encounter a real person - and in that real person, they get a window into the actual ongoing work of a living God.  And it is God's work on that man that is the testimony that changes lives.

In this moment, our black brothers and sisters are crying out to the rest of us and begging us to draw our attention to things that we are not seeing.  We are always most blind to the issues within ourselves (that is a core human trait) - and so we need our brothers and sisters who live in different spaces to see the things in us that we cannot see.  

The protests we are seeing today are one of the greatest gifts to white America.  They are drawing our collective attention - all of us - to something that is as old, deep, sinful, oppressive, and unbearable as it is a fundamental part of the American normal up to this point.  We might not see it - but our brothers and sisters who do see it are giving us an opportunity to do so.  

If we can see the systemic sin and hurt that our normal way of being as a society has done to our black brothers and sisters over generations - if we can see it and feel it in a new way - then we can open our hearts to God so that he might break us.  Allowing our hearts to break is scary and painful - but if we can trust our brothers and sisters in Christ whom God has placed with us and among us for our mutual benefit - if we can receive this gift - then we can find a new Way that looks more like the path of Christ.  And I believe that will be a far more powerful witness than continuing to close our ears to this message and hold on to our rightness.  

The deepest gifts of God are often the most painful to receive - but they bear profound fruit.

And so, to my white brothers and sisters (I am a white man) - I invite you to listen to our black brothers and sisters. This thing is real. We will never understand it the way our black brothers and sisters do, but we have an opportunity now to grow in our understanding of it, to internalize it in our hearts, to repent of our collective sins of action and inaction, to be broken, and to be rebuilt by the Holy Spirit in a new path.

How will we respond to this gift?  My hope and prayer is that we will stop justifying ourselves, repent, and offer the world the profound testimony that the Holy Spirit still lives among his people and is able to break them and redirect them for His purposes.



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